It’s been a few weird weeks. Here I am having reached the golden years and I’m now dealing with a not so pleasant “ghost” of my way back past.
Back in ‘68-‘69 I was a mostly crew-cut eighth grader still going to school in New York City. Amongst my rather large class at a Catholic elementary school was a guy that I stayed far away from.
He was in the definition of that day and even more so in the parameters of what we consider as a “bully” today. That is, he was nasty, picked on other weaker kids, tried to enforce what he wanted to do, etc.… You get the idea. He always had a sneer on his face. I remembered it back then, I can recall it still now.
Now to be honest, I don’t recall or maybe have conveniently forgotten through the years if I was ever in his bullseye sights or the target of his physical or verbal abuse. But I do know that many other of my classmates and friends were.
Though I never joined in the abuse or even laughed at the uncomfortable predicaments my classmates and friends were put in because of this bully, I also never stood with or defended them from his verbal and sometimes physical abuse. I was not happy with myself then for my lack of action and I’ve tried my best in the years since to speak up against behavior of that sort.
So, why am I pulling the scab off of an over 50 years psychic cut? Because in the virtual world of today, he’s back.
I am now the sole administrator for a Facebook page that keeps that class connected, so much so that 50 years after we graduated from grade school, we returned from all over the city, state, and country to have a reunion in New York City attended by over 60 alumni.
Well guess who looked to join our Facebook page? Fifty years had gone by and I figured he must have learned, must have mellowed, must have changed. So I accepted him.
His first few posts were innocent enough. Maybe a tad too over the top, but that’s just my taste. As I do with this page and others that I administrate I do keep an eye on posts. I don’t censor, but neither do I allow political posts of any sort, off color posts, or bullying.
Then there was a post from him that was political (with a religious angle, no less). I gave him the option of taking it down himself, advising him of my (and the classes) policy on the page.
He told me no, told me it wasn’t my page or choice and he was keeping it up. Okay, so I promptly took it down myself with a few follow-up rants from him. I then posted again without naming him (though I’m sure many knew who I was referring to) reminding all of my policy. In one of those “restored faith in humanity” moments my classmates from the Big Apple unanimously agreed with me and thanked me for taking a stand.
It had taken 50+ years and on a thing now called the internet, but the bully had been vanquished.
Brian Curry is a long-time Long Island Advance columnist and a three-time winner of the New York State Press Association’s “Column of the Year.” You can contact him at [email protected].